Can a Courier Company Be Held Liable for a Higher Value Than the Limitation of Liability Provision Contained In the Shipping Invoice ?

In Wagman v. Federal Express, 844 F. Supp. 247 (Dist.Md. 1994), affirmed without opinion, 47 F.3d 1166 (4th. Cir. 1995) an attorney sent a personal injury complaint by Federal Express for filing.

The attorney needed the complaint to be delivered by the following Monday because that was the last day for filing of the complaint allowed by the statute of limitations.

He was assured by the Federal Express courier that the complaint would be delivered.

The shipping invoice, which the attorney signed, contained a limitation of liability provision on the front of the form which provided that Federal Express's liability for all damages was limited to $ 100.00 unless the shipper declared a higher value.

There was another space on the front of the form which allowed the shipper to declare a higher value for the shipped materials.

A similar clause stating that Federal Express's liability for all damages was limited to $ 100.00 unless the shipper declared a higher value was contained on the back of the invoice.

The attorney failed to declare a higher value for the package.

Unfortunately, the complaint was not delivered in a timely fashion and the statute of limitations expired. Consequently, the attorney sued Federal Express.

The United States District Court of Maryland granted summary judgment for Federal Express ruling, that because the attorney had failed to declare a higher value for the material being shipped, he could recover no more than $ 100.00 from Federal Express due to the limitation of liability provisions contained in the shipping invoice. Id. at 250-251.